aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, August 27, 2005
[Eric E. Schmidt, the chairman and chief executive of Google] or his proxy apparently was angered by a journalist who did nothing more than use for policy discussion Mr. Schmidt’s own service to gather publicly available material. Mr. Schmidt’s home address comes from a Federal Election Commission database, which lists this and other details about donors who contribute more than $200 in a year to a candidate. If CNET’s mention of the readily available information discomfited Mr. Schmidt, it should not have. Two months previously, when Google was host of a briefing for members of the news media, it was Mr. Schmidt who had explained his company’s ambitions so boldly: “When we talk about organizing all of the world’s information, we mean all.”
Providing access to all information increasingly puts Google in the same defensive position as CNET, repeating the same refrain: This stuff is already out there. Two Dutch politicians created a stir this month when they formally asked the Dutch government to investigate the possibility that Google Earth, which provides aerial views of most everywhere, including the Hague and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, could be used by terrorists. But those images, Google countered, are already available from commercial sources. Google said last week that it had “proactively” reached out to the United States Defense Department to see if it had security concerns, adding that the department had not registered any to date.
More access to information, thanks to improved search-engine indexing, is better than less. But increased vulnerability comes with the package, as the Dutch and Mr. Schmidt have found.
Daniel Dennett on “teach the controversy”
[T]he proponents of intelligent design use a ploy that works something like this. First you misuse or misdescribe some scientist’s work. Then you get an angry rebuttal. Then, instead of dealing forthrightly with the charges leveled, you cite the rebuttal as evidence that there is a “controversy” to teach.
Note that the trick is content-free. You can use it on any topic. “Smith’s work in geology supports my argument that the earth is flat,” you say, misrepresenting Smith’s work. When Smith responds with a denunciation of your misuse of her work, you respond, saying something like: “See what a controversy we have here? Professor Smith and I are locked in a titanic scientific debate. We should teach the controversy in the classrooms.” And here is the delicious part: you can often exploit the very technicality of the issues to your own advantage, counting on most of us to miss the point in all the difficult details.
Logan Clements domain
When I first heard about Logan Clements idea to build The Lost Liberty Hotel and Just Desserts Cafe on property that currently serves as the residence of Justice David H. Souter I thought it a terrific political statement and that nothing further would come of it.
Last week Clements flew across the country to visit Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s hometown of Weare, NH:
But the California man who wants to seize Souter’s land through eminent domain to build a hotel didn’t knock on the judge’s front door when he stopped by Saturday afternoon.
“I don’t want to go on his property,” said Clements, who is behind the push to punish Souter for being one of five justices behind a ruling that supports government power to seize private property. The June decision allowed the city of New London, Conn., to take several older homes, so a private developer could build a hotel and convention center, office space, and condominiums. “I just don’t care to, but if he’d like to come out, I’d like to talk to him,” said Clements.
Souter, who neighbors said was home, didn’t come to the door.
Instead, Clements left gifts for Souter - he draped a T-shirt across the justice’s mailbox and propped a copy of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” behind it. The book, which promotes a philosophy of free will capitalism, is Clements’ inspiration.
“I think it needs a coat of paint,” he said of Souter’s peeling house.
Clements also was in town for a private strategy session with three local supporters, and to promote his plan to townspeople at Weare’s old Town Hall on Saturday. He and his girlfriend, Heidi Xu, had hoped to recoup travel costs by selling $25 “Lost Liberty Hotel” T-shirts.
But only about half-a-dozen people showed up.
Last night he was on Nightline, in a story that made his effort look more possible than the article quoted above. Nightline noted, for example, that a University of New Hampshire poll found “93% of the state’s residents shared Clements outrage.”
In fairness, it did interview a good number of skeptical folks, along with the five citizens of Weare who have formed a committee in favor of taking Souter’s land.
I’m not sure I’d like or agree with Clements on many things, but I think this a brilliant political act, and I wish him well with it.
Win an iPod Shuffle
Freeway Blogger says, “When you put a sign on the freeway people will read it until someone takes it down. Depending on its size, content and placement it can be seen by hundreds of thousands of people.” And there are instructions on how to do it. “1) Put paint on cardboard, 2) Put cardboard on freeway, 3) Repeat.”
Best is the examples. My favorites? “Rumsfailed” and “Can you feel a draft?”
Create signs relating to Operation Yellow Elephant’s mission to expose the hypocrisy of hawkish College Republicans and other young conservatives who are too cowardly to fight in the war they demanded. Post these signs near roadways and pedestrian pathways on or near college campuses. Photograph your work and send it to me. I’ll post them here. In early October, the OYE Contributing Writers and the Freeway Blogger will pick a winner.